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Billing Mishaps and Mayhem!

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Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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  • Feb 3, 2023

According to companies like Tridens Technologies, utilities need an automated billing and invoice platform with modern billing management and up-to-date features to increase efficiency and decrease human error.  Tridens Technologies is not alone in offering advanced billing options for utility companies.  A comparative list of the Top Utility Billing Software companies has already been complied by Source Forge.  But lately, utilities are experiencing an unsettling rise in billing mishaps and mistakes. 

The Public Utility Commission in Pennsylvania has launched an investigation of PPL Electric Utilities high bills.  The PUC will check the accuracy and business practices of the utility.  PPL says a technical problem led to inaccurate data on customer usage between December and January.  The utility has since fixed the issue.

San Diego residents are taking it upon themselves to question recent high bills from San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E).  One unhappy customer is starting an online petition to encourage customers to join his ‘payment strike.’  SDG&E has not reported any billing issues but instead points to the volatility in gas commodities for the high rates.

In Oklahoma and Arkansas around 167,000 Summit Utilities customers were billed incorrectly.  Summit’s CEO, Kurt Adams explained, “If there is a meter data pull, we take that meter, we take that data and we use it for billing. If there is a pull that doesn't happen for some reason, the system estimates a bill."  However, an internal data system failure resulted in estimates being counted as the actual amount people owed.  “About 65% of the bills were within two percent of the actuals," he said. “We have run all the bills now, and they are going to be in the mail today and tomorrow, they're going to be pretty close to what the estimated bill was for 65% or so of the customers. The rest will see a little bit lower, a little bit higher."   The utility will continue to conduct internal audits to double check accuracy of the billing system.  “When the war in Ukraine started and Russia eventually shut off the gas to Europe,” Adams continued, “The consequence of that was that Europe started looking to other places for gas and they came to the United States because the United States has a very rich gas resource so every BTU of gas we use in Arkansas is actually competed for by the Europeans." 

Between high gas prices and flawed billing systems customers, lawmakers and state officials are losing their patience.  U.S. Rep Pat Ryan demands Central Hudson utility CEO resign. Since rolling out a new billing system in September 2021 thousands of customers have experienced inaccurate bills, incorrect automatic withdrawals from checking accounts, inflated bills and multiple bills issued at once.  "Central Hudson continues to apologize for the unfortunate impacts that the implementation of the new system has had on our customers and key stakeholders. Our number one priority has been and remains resolution of issues with the system, and we continue to make progress," the statement reads.  Taking one step further Ryan wants the state and federal governments to consider the consolidation of the utility companies for the area.

As utilities implement modernization measures, how can they avoid losing the customer’s trust?


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